Frequently Asked Questions - Financial Benefits

You may update your information via WAVE. You may also call the direct deposit center at 1-877-838-2778 to begin and change direct deposit.

You may be eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation (Ch. 31) benefits if you received, or will receive, a discharge under other than dishonorable conditions, incurred or aggravated a service-connected disability which entitles you to VA disability compensation, and is in need of vocational rehabilitation because your disability creates an employment handicap. Generally, full tuition, fees, and books are paid to the school by the VA. In addition, you may receive a subsistence allowance depending on the training status. Vocational rehabilitation may be provided for up to 48 months. 


Generally, active duty service members who are eligible for Ch. 33 (have completed 90 days of aggregate service) are eligible for 100% of tuition and fees. Most active duty service members are also eligible for up to 100% Armed Forces Tuition Assistance for courses taken during off-duty hours. For more information, please visit’s useful summary page.
According to federal regulations, active duty service members may not receive VA benefits for the same courses for which they receive Tuition Assistance (TA) from the military. Please consult with your school’s financial aid officer to ensure that you are in compliance with these regulations while also receiving the maximum benefits combination possible. You must also notify Columbia’s VA Certifying Official that you are active duty if you have requested to receive Ch. 33 (Post-9/11 GI Bill ®) benefits. Please note that active duty students are ineligible for the Ch. 33 housing allowance (BAH).


Columbia's VA Certifying Official is Mercy Goodnow Smith, University Director of Financial Aid.  She can be reached at

The Montgomery GI Bill ® (Ch. 30) and the Post-9/11 GI Bill ® (Ch. 33) have different eligibility requirements and offer different educational benefits.  Some excellent resources for evaluating your options and making a selection are:

New York's Recruitment Incentive and Retention Program offers a tuition benefit for eligible members of the New York National Guard.  Additionally, New York's Veterans Tuition Award offers a small contribution towards Columbia tuition to eligible veterans attending a degree-granting program in New York State.

Pell Grants are not affected by the Post-9/11 VA benefit eligibility. If you are a Pell Grant recipient, the Post-9/11 VA benefits you receive will not count against your aid eligibility. In general, students will be able to keep their Pell grants even if they are receiving Post-9/11 benefits. For further questions, you should check with your school's financial aid office or the office of Student Financial Planning.

Please consult the GI Bill ® website of the VA or the Financing Your Education section of this website.

We strongly prefer that you submit your certificate of eligibility via email to or as an attachment to your Veterans Request for Certification form.  However, you may also mail, hand deliver, or fax your certificate of eligibility to the following contact information:

For Morningside Campus schools:
In person: 205 Kent Hall
By mail: Attn: VA Certifying Official, 210 Kent Hall, MC 9205, 1150 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027
Via fax: Attn: VA Certifying Official, 212-854-7131

For Medical Center schools:
In person: 1-141 Black Building
By mail: Attn: VA Certifying Official, 1-141 Black Building, Unit 45, 630 W. 168th St., New York, NY 10032

There are two federal programs that may be available for dependents of Vietnam veterans: VEAP and the Survivors and Dependents benefits.  You can learn more about both benefits on the Financing Your Education page or on the VA Educational Benefits website.

You will not need an enrollment certification from Columbia in order to get your certificate of eligibility, but you will need to have your enrollment certified in order to have your payments processed. To request a certificate of eligibility, visit

Unless you are eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program under the Post-9/11 GI Bill ®, you do not need to give your certificate to anyone else at Columbia. However, you may want to inform your school’s financial aid office that you will be receiving VA benefits.

For the Post-9/11 GI Bill ®, the Department of Veterans Affairs will process payments directly to Columbia University. You will need to ensure that all documentation is in place so that Columbia receives payments on your behalf. In the event you learn that you are not entitled to VA payments, you will be responsible for paying any outstanding charges to the University.

For all other VA educational benefits programs, you will receive funds directly from the VA and will be responsible for submitting all payments you owe to Columbia University.

As with other scholarships, you should anticipate the amount you will receive from the VA and pay only the remaining balance on your student account.  You should not pay upfront the amount that you expect to receive from the VA. We will ensure that you are not assessed a late fee for this outstanding balance while VA payment is pending.